The trick was convincing my husband Drew that taking a motorhome holiday would be fun. For him, the prospect of ‘sleeping in a mobile cupboard’ wasn’t that alluring, and it wasn’t until we flew in over the lakes and luxuriant forest of Smaland province in southern Sweden that he became intrigued.
Anna walking in snowshoes with daughter Claudie at Store Mosse bog
We picked up the keys to our spacious, uncupboardlike Swift Toscane the next day, and were urged by staff at the rental firm to follow the back roads. The key to a motorhome holiday is to have a plan – but not too much of one.
In Sweden, Allmansratten, or the ‘everyman’s right’ to countryside access, means you can camp almost anywhere. So we arranged to stay at campsites less than a two-hour drive apart, and left gaps in our itinerary so that we could go where the spirit took us.
Smaland is farming country – think swaying crops and red-and-white houses that look like Playmobil farms. Only odd giant boulders hint at the area’s glacial past.
Now it’s a land of field, forest and dappled light, with low-key campsites such as Kyrkekvarn on the River Tidan – where you can canoe or explore on Icelandic ponies – and Habo on Lake Vattern.
Here, we hit peak Swedishness – the idea of ‘going to the lake with your family’. And at 73 miles long there’s a lot of lake to explore. We woke the next morning to mizzle, but that didn’t stop us eating breakfast on a beautifully eerie, empty beach.
At Vimmerby you’ll find Astrid Lindgren’s World, a theme park dedicated to the Pippi Longstocking author. It’s wholesome stuff; playhouses, playgrounds and simple pleasures under the trees.
Our daughter Claudie kept a hopeful eye out for moose, but the king of the Swedish forests is shy and best seen at Virum Moose Park.
Other top stops nearby include towns such as Eksjo, with neat wooden houses that could easily have come in flatpack form. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad is a Smalander. Coincidence? I think not.
Anna’s motorhome parked up next to the water. Hire of a four-berth motorhome costs from £600 a week in low season to £900 in high season
Call of the wild: Ruins on the shore of Visingso Island where Anna and her family went wild camping for a night
Whatever you’re doing in Sweden, you have to include plenty of ‘fika’, the custom of taking a break with coffee and something sweet, and Drew was soon screeching into lay-bys to put the kettle on.
The sun returned as we rolled on past wildflower meadows and lakes, and Claudie was content as we played I-Spy.
Our first wild camp was on tiny Visingso Island, 15 minutes by ferry across Lake Vattern from Granna.
Whatever you’re doing in Sweden, you have to include plenty of ‘fika’, the custom of taking a break with coffee and something sweet
Granna is known for ‘polkagris’ candy, and the most famous local was Salomon August Andree, who died during a hydrogen balloon expedition to the North Pole in 1897.
Locals like to say that Visingso was formed when a gallant giant threw down earth for his wife to step on.
The traditional transport here isn’t a motorhome but a remmalag, a horse-drawn trap which you can catch from the harbour – although bikes or canoes are good alternatives.
And you can camp where you like – we parked at a beach, barbecued and slept under the lapis skies of the summer midnight sun.
But for the wildest camping pick a national park such as Store Mosse, which has the largest bog in Sweden.
That may not sound like a huge plus, but a guided walk over it in snowshoes is great fun.
The bog was full of surprises – a bit like our holiday.
For motorhome hire and booking campsites in Sweden, visit rentaswift.se.
Hire of a four-berth motorhome costs from £600 a week in low season to £900 in high season.
Delivery of the vehicle to Gothenburg airport costs about £100.
If you are new to motorhome holidays, freedomtogo.co.uk/hirerent has ideas to get you started.